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New bill calls for a national law requiring registered nurses 24/7 in nursing homes

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The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) is calling on all federal senators to support a private member’s bill, the Aged Care Amendment (Registered Nurses Ensuring Quality Care) Bill 2021, introduced by Senator Rex Patrick yesterday (Tuesday, September 1).

There is currently no national law requiring registered nurses to be rostered in nursing homes 24/7.

If passed, this Bill will require that at least one registered nurse be working on-site at nursing homes ‘at all times’.

In welcoming Senator Patrick’s Bill, ANMF Federal Assistant Secretary, Lori-Anne Sharp said its members were asking why the Morrison Government had still not implemented one of the royal commission’s key recommendations to ensure a registered nurse on site at all times.

Nurses and carers cannot wait any longer, Sharp said, and there are clearly not enough staff to give the care residents need.

Members, she said, continue to experience chronic understaffing and cuts to hours.

“We applaud Senator Patrick for standing-up for older Australians and the nurses and carers who care for them,” Sharp said on Tuesday.

“The implementation of safe nurse staffing levels and mandated minimum staff time, as recommended by the aged care royal commission, will address the chronic understaffing in the aged care sector.

“It will stop the neglect and suffering of vulnerable residents who are not receiving the care they deserve.

Sharp said a national law requiring a registered nurse to be on shift 24 hours per day in nursing homes is not too much to ask.

“We ask all federal senators to support this new bill and the ANMF’s ongoing fight to address the failures in the aged care system.”

Patrick said “residents, their families, the aged care workforce and the wider Australian community cannot wait any longer” for the royal commission’s recommendation for nurse ratios to be introduced by July 1, 2024.

“I’m concerned aged care residents are not getting the care they need, and the care is varied depending on where they are located across Australia,” Patrick said.

“The inconsistent approach leads to variations in the level of care and quality provided to residents.

“Proper care for our elderly is critical and it requires aged care homes to have registered nurses on site at all times.”

Last week in the House of Representatives, Dr Helen Haines, the independent member for Indi, put forward a private member’s motion which also called on the Morrison Government to mandate nursing levels and for a range of other reforms to improve aged care, particularly in rural and regional areas.

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